McGeough appeal denied
McGeough appeal denied

A former member of the Sinn Féin leadership has been refused a pardon used to free other republicans at the end of the conflict.

The rulings on both his appeal against his conviction on IRA charges last year, which was heard November 16, 2011, and his judicial review, which was heard on January 6, 2012, were both handed down today.

A spokesperson for his justice campaign said this was “not a coindicence” and said this had been requested at “the highest political level” within the British government.

The Tyrone man, who once led Sinn Féin’s opposition to the referendum on the EU’s Nice Treaty in 2001, but who stood for election as an independent traditional republican in 2007, has been labelled a ‘dissident’.

His lawyers had argued that the Royal Prerogative of Mercy should be granted to ensure equal treatment with others who benefited from it, regardless of Mr McGeough’s political beliefs.

At a hearing in January, the judge was told that pardons were used to free a man linked to the 1996 IRA attack against economic targets in London’s Docklands, among others.

Sean Devine, counsel for Mr McGeough, said: “What seems to be the elephant in the room is this was a political device where political motives effectively seemed to trump the legal framework that was in place.”

He stressed that no criticism was being made of it, adding that some consequences of the political process and Good Friday Agreement were “distasteful”.

He said it was “equally distasteful that because the Good Friday Agreement is in the bag and because Mr McGeough is no longer a member of Sinn Féin and perhaps seen to be more vulnerable” that he should receive unequal treatment.

Today at the High Court in Belfast, Justice Seamus Treacy dismissed the arguments as “untenable”,

“No ground of challenge has been made out and the judicial review must be dismissed,” he said, without explanation.

Mr McGeough’s legal team will now study the judgment before deciding whether to mount an appeal.

Speaking from jail on the one year anniversary of his imprisonment, the former IRA man described himself as a political hostage.

“My imprisonment and continued incarceration make a mockery of the Good Friday Agreement and proves that political repression and the sectarian discrimination remains central to the existence of this statelet”, he said.

“Sinn Féin leaders are deeply embarrassed by this whole scandal, as it calls into question their negotiating skills and exposes their utter lack of any real power and influence.

“Thus, they put more time and effort into trying to discredit and silence our campaign rather than stand up to the British on behalf of our people.”

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© 2012 Irish Republican News